Seeking more information about the Obama-Richardson deal

I have a lot of questions about the deal struck between the Obama and Richardson campaigns, and I would be grateful to Bleeding Heartland readers who can shed light on any of them.

1. How much initial support did Richardson have last night? The Iowa Democratic Party does not report this information. I would like to hear from as many people as possible about how many people were in Richardson’s corner after the first division into preference groups. In my precinct he had 28 out of 293 people, or about 9.6 percent.

2. Was this a one-way deal, or did the Obama campaign promise to instruct its captains to help Richardson become viable where he was close to the threshold?

Obama volunteers out there, did you get any encouragement to help Richardson out at the caucus?

I’m assuming that either this wasn’t part of the deal, or Obama volunteers did not follow through, because Richardson only ended up with 2.1 percent of the state delegates. Clearly he fell below the threshold in many, many places.

3. Did the Richardson supporters predominantly go to Obama during the realignment? In my precinct a lot came to Edwards–perhaps even more than the number who went to Obama, though I can’t be sure of that. However, a friend who’s an Obama precinct captain near Hoover High School told me that in her precinct the Richardson captain brought pretty much the whole group over. Marc Ambinder observed something similar.

If Richardson had 8-10 percent support in a lot of precincts, and this deal really did transfer his supporters overwhelmingly to Obama, that alone accounts for Obama’s winning margin.

I would like to hear from as many Iowans as possible about how the Richardson supporters moved during realignment at your caucus. If you don’t want to post a comment, please e-mail me at desmoinesdem AT

4. Was there some kind of falling out recently between Richardson and Clinton? For most of the year people assumed that if Richardson struck any kind of deal, it would be with Hillary. Bill Clinton elevated him from Congress to UN ambassador and later to secretary of energy, and Richardson and the Clintons have a similar outlook on trade and other economic issues.

If any Bleeding Heartland readers were involved in the Clinton or Richardson campaigns and can shed light on this question, please let us know or e-mail me confidentially.

UPDATE: I am hearing more stories from friends all the time. In one neighboring precinct, the Clinton people sent enough supporters to make Richardson viable so that Edwards would not get an extra delegate. In another precinct, the Dodd, Richardson and Biden groups combined were 19 short of viability. Obama’s group had more than enough people to send over 19 without losing any of their delegates, but they refused, so most of the Dodd, Richardson and Biden group went over to Edwards.

  • This didn't help us at all...

    In fact, the Richardson people hadn’t even heard about it.  It was all smoke and mirrors, I think, because I think that Richardson was jockying for a VP slot.

    RIchardson had more people after reallignment, but that was all from Dodd and Biden and undecided people, not from Obama.

    I think the whole thing was overblown.

    • I think as "insiders"...

      …we tend to overblow political things like this.  The average everyday person doesn’t really care about gamesmanship.

      In my precinct, Richardson had 55 people at first, and 69 people after re-allignment (64 were needed for viability).  I had two friends of mine switch from Obama to Richardson, but not because I or any Obama person asked them to.  I even begged them to come back, since the Obama group in my precinct only needed 8 more people (out of 425) to pick up an extra 5th delegate, but they stayed put with their switch.

      Kucinich’s 8 supporters actually split between Obama and Edwards, with 5 going to Edwards and 3 to Obama.  The 9 undecideds went to Hillary and Edwards.

      In all, I think that people made up their own minds.  

      • I think that's true for the most part

        People make up their own minds. As I said, a lot of the Richardson people came over to Edwards in my precinct.

        On the other hand, Daily Kos user neia put up this diary saying that in her small-town precinct, four Obama organizers from Illinois

        started herding Richardson supporters to Obama saying that Richardson had given direct orders for them to join the Obama camp.  They effectively surrounded them and walked them over to the Obama corner.  I’m sure that this happens all the time in other precincts but it really made me mad that somebody that isn’t even from this state is taking control of the process.

  • Richardson

    Richardson was short of viability by about 6 people before the realignment.  Their captain rallied undecideds needed to barely get viability.  I believe if we had been able to have our corner between Richardson and Biden then they would not have been viable.  If Richardson had not been viable the captain probably would have tried to bring people to our corner.  

    I would say the deal was overblown as well.  I was instructed not to make Richardson viable no matter what happened.  The only person that was encouraging me to help Richardson was their precinct captain.  

    Basically, the ‘deal’ had no effect in my precinct.  It’s hard to say how much power their precinct captain would have had to bring them to the Obama corner if they were not viable.   Because our room was too small they would have had to walk past Edwards or Clinton corners to get to ours.  There were about 200 chairs in the middle of the room.  

    • caucuses can be so different

      My field organizer was an observer in a neighboring precinct that assigned 5 delegates. It became clear that Obama would get 2 delegates and had no chance at 3. Edwards and Clinton each had enough for one delegate, but Edwards had more supporters.

      Seeing that Clinton was not going to get a second delegate, a few Hillary supporters went over to Richardson to make him viable, so that Edwards would not get the second delegate.

      So it went Obama 2, Edwards 1, Clinton 1, Richardson 1.

  • Richardson wasn't viable...

    …In my precinct, Des Moines 4.  I was Caucus Chair, and if I remember the math correctly it took 19 people to be viable and Richardson’s folks only had 5 or 6 people there.  They also had an organizer from the campaign there (not sure if she was paid or not) but she didn’t offer any directions as to where to send the supporters during re-alignment.  If memory serves me, I believe a few went to Edwards and a few to Obama.

    We were in such cramped space anyway–a small elementary school library for 122 people–that it was hard to tell who ended up moving.

    In the end, our numbers were so evenly split that we should have given each group two delegates.  Unfortunately, we only had 5 to give so the Clinton group, which had a just a few less supporters than Edwards, only ended up with one.

    As another side note I heard lots of people talking up Edwards as their second choice, including the Clinton people.

  • If there was a deal

    No one listened.  My precinct had 424 with 65 needed to be viable. Richardson and Biden both were at 25, Kucinich had 7, Dodd 4 and one soul was uncommitted.  I was talking with the Richardson captain all along, and while Obama lobbied for their support there were no offers of help from anyone.  Most of the Richardson supporters went to Edwards in a block, there wasn’t much hesitation once it was clear that only three viable groups were possible.  Biden scattered, Kucinich went to Obama.

  • IC11

    In my precinct (Iowa City 11; 4 delegates), we had 166 people, so viability was 25 people. I’m not sure how many Richardson started off with, but I was under the impression that he had fewer than Edwards or Clinton, which both started with about 16.

    During realignment, Edwards managed 23 caucusers, peeling a few away from Hillary, Biden, and undecided, and at the very last minute two people from Richardson came over to Edwards to make 25 and give Edwards one delegate, though I don’t know why (whether they were instructed to do so or did so on their own). The remainder of Richardson’s people joined up with what was left of Hillary’s to create one uncommitted delegate. I wasn’t privy to the details of the deal-making on any of this, so I don’t know who was acting on what instructions, but that’s how it went: Obama’s group didn’t send any support to Richardson, or to anybody else.

  • Ames reporting...

    Ames 3-5 had Richardson at about 50 with around 75 needed for viability.  The large crowd ended up pushing the small groups out into the hallway, and an effective Richardson precinct captain coralled most of Biden and Kucinich to become viable before Edwards people even got out there.  Dodd supporters got grumpy and left.

    Richardson precinct captain promised to appoint a Kucinich supporter as a delegate (not an alternate) and allow him to cast a protest vote for Kucinich at the county convention (viability for our group got you two delegates automatically.)  Our precinct split  6O 4E 3C 2R.   Edwards may have gotten another delegate if Richardson broke up, but it wasn’t clear.  Obama may also have gotten one.

    The Richardson precinct captain (quite active) had received no instructions to split to Obama.

  • Keokuk/ Lee County

    I know that in 7 of the 8 sites in Keokuk the Richardson people did not break our way.  They went to Edwards.  And I did not get, nor did anyone else I spoke with (a dozen) get word about Richardson coming our way.  All I heard was on the net.  

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